Home » Why now is the best time for a group tour to Hawaii

Why now is the best time for a group tour to Hawaii

written by Claire Baxter August 7, 2018
Wailua River, Kaua'i, Hawaii

When I told people I was going on holidays to Hawaii, the conversation went like this:

Them: “Great! Are you going by yourself or…?”
Me: “I’m doing an Intrepid trip.”
Them (incredulously): “Intrepid do trips in Hawaii?”

If you’re after something a little more exciting than lounging around at a beach resort in Honolulu, here’s why a small group adventure in Hawaii might be just what you’re looking for.

1. Hawaii is expensive (like, really expensive)

Maui sunset, Hawaii

Maui sunset. Photo by loneroc.

Flights into Honolulu are cheap (from Australia at least), but once you get there, expect to pay top dollar for your accommodation and activities. I was travelling solo, and going on a group trip was a much more affordable option. Not only can you share a room, but it meant that many of our optional activities were free as our ever-obliging tour leader, Charlie, could drive us around, meaning we saved money on hiring cars or booking day tours. Public transport is in short supply anywhere outside of Oahu.

2. Group tour = instant friends

Cocktails on the boat.

Happy hour! Photo by Claire Baxter.

If I’d gone on my own I’m not sure I would have done half the things that we were able to do as a group, beginning with a sunset sail in Waikiki Bay and getting to know my new Australian, Swiss, German, South African and American friends over a Mai Tai or two.


3. Hawaii is made for adventure

Waterfalls of Waimea, Kauaii

The stunning Waimea Valley. Photo by The Seven Layers

After a quick flight to Kauai, we kayaked up the Wailua River, then trekked for an hour through beautiful (but muddy) forest trails to a waterfall for a swim. The next day, we took a helicopter flight over Waimea Canyon and the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, followed by an afternoon hike through the Na Pali Coast State Park. In Kona, we snorkelled above coral reefs alongside tropical fish and dolphins, then enjoyed a night swim with manta rays. A small group of us paddled out to a platform, which was lit from below by fluorescent lights; the lights attracted plankton, which drew in the huge rays, who fed on the plankton while we looked on in awe. The graceful creatures are truly magnificent and being able to see them so close was a real privilege.


4. The landscapes have to be seen to be believed

Wailua waterfalls.

Wailua waterfalls on Kauai. Photo by MNStudio.

Craggy mountain ranges, dense jungle, colourful tropical flowers, stunning coastlines… I could go on and on. The landscapes in Hawaii are really something else. And sure, you can enjoy them just as much as if you were travelling on your own, but with a group there’s always someone to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ and ‘hey, isn’t that where they shot Jurassic Park?’ with.

5. Someone else takes care of the driving

Road to Hana, Hawaii

The famous Road to Hana. Photo by MNStudio

When we arrived in Maui, Charlie suggested a driving tour of part of the famed Road to Hana. Some stats on this road: 52 miles (84 kilometres) long, 617 switchbacks, and 56 one-lane bridges. It’s not an easy drive, and certainly not something I’d feel comfortable doing on my own. The Road to Hana deserves its fame as one of the world’s most scenic drives (and it was rated as a highlight by most of our group). There are heaps of spots to stop along the way, like waterfalls, lava tubes, bamboo forests, and ice cream shops (a must).


Travellers exploring a blowhole in Hawaii

Exploring. Photo by Claire Baxter.

As a solo traveller, doing an Intrepid trip was really the best way to maximise my time in Hawaii and minimise the cost. All the activities I’ve mentioned would have required transport to get to – either a rental car, taxi or day tour – plus some of them just weren’t possible or safe for one person. Kayaking was in double kayaks, swimming with Manta rays at night by yourself would just be stupid, and if you self-drove the Road to Hana, you’d miss half the sights from having to concentrate on the road. For me it was really the best way to truly experience all that Hawaii has to offer.

Urm, but what about the volcano? It’s not safe to travel to the Big Island, right?

Lava flow hits the ocean in Hawaii

Lava flow. Photo by Rachel Blaser

Since early May, reports on many news networks have been depicting the Island of Hawaii (aka the Big Island) as a burning inferno of spewing lava, ash clouds and toxic fumes, but this isn’t entirely the case. Kilauea volcano has actually been erupting from a remote vent in its East Rift Zone since 1983, and has been belching out lava flows in parts of the Volcanoes National Park ever since. On May 3, following a 5.0 earthquake, cracks in the ground near a housing estate in Puna opened up, forcing the evacuation of residents; to date, there have been no reported fatalities.

But in terms of safety, travel to the Big Island is totally fine. Travellers are obviously not allowed into the lava flow area, and are not in danger of breathing in any toxic gases (this is only a problem when lava hits seawater).


Are visitor attractions still open?

Kaumana Caves

Kaumana Caves. Photo by orxy.

They sure are. While most of the Volcanoes National Park is closed, there’s still HEAPS to do on the Big Island, like hiking, exploring the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach and Kaumana Caves, checking out a coffee plantation (and sampling their famous brew), or enjoying some beach time at Spencer State Beach, Beach 69 or Hapuna State Beach.

So I shouldn’t cancel my plans?

Definitely not. Hawaii needs our travel dollars more than ever right now.

Ready to explore Hawaii’s spectacular islands? Book your spot on a small group adventure now

Feature image by Graig Zethner. 

Feeling inspired?

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James Cook February 5, 2021 - 10:46 am

Hawaii is the best to travel!! Visit and enjoy your group vacations.

Leny January 2, 2021 - 1:30 pm

Is there any small group tour on MAY 28th to June 6th. How big is the group? What the cost for 1 adult and 1 kid?

from Eugene Oregon

Intrepid Travel January 11, 2021 - 11:51 am

Hi Eugene,

Please contact our sales team here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/contact-us and they will be able to assist you with your booking enquiry. Thanks so much for your interest in travelling with us!

Toshi August 18, 2019 - 4:49 pm

Hi is there any group tour to Hawaii in December 2019 from Auckland, New Zealand. If yes, how much is the package for and for how many days? Thanks

Rita October 9, 2018 - 8:18 am

Hi. We are planning a trip to Hawaii in April. Still undecided if we should do basically an all inclusive and visit the 3 islands or just do our own thing? All suggestions are welcomed

Henry Collins August 16, 2018 - 5:33 am

Wow! So beautiful. I definitely have to plan a vacation to go see this.

Ash August 8, 2018 - 6:04 am

Aloha! I’m due to do this tour in October (can’t wait) and had a quick qn. Do you get the opportunity to see the lava when your in Big Island? (either by air, ground or boat (yeah I’m aware of issues on the boat, lava and seawater)). I’m just wondering if I should be pre-booking a trip a helicopter tour from Kona (as well as maybe a trip to Mauna Kae) on the free day whilst we’re in Kailua-Kona as these apparantly sell out a month before, and don’t know if Intrepid has these opportunities… I really want to see the red stuff 🙂

Emily Kratzmann August 9, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Hi Ash,

SO exciting!! Hawaii is incredible 🙂

Unfortunately it’s still a little too early to know whether or not we’ll have access to the Volcanoes National Park in October, but you definitely have some lava-viewing options. We do NOT advise viewing the lava by boat or on the ground, but a flyover via helicopter is most certainly doable. We use Blue Hawaiian helicopters – our leaders haven’t had many troubles reserving flights for passengers (there’s been a pretty big dip in tourism on the island), but of course you are welcome to book ahead via the Blue Hawaiian website. You’ve got a couple of options with them: you could take this tour on Day 5 (the Kona free day) or this tour on Day 7 – this one is a bit shorter and cheaper than the Big Island Spectacular, but you may need to catch a taxi from your accommodation to Hilo airport for departure. Your leader can probably drive you to Waikaloa airport for the Day 5 tour though 🙂

Hope this helps!



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